If Not For the Cat

Bibliographic Information: Prelutsky, Jack, and Ted Rand. If Not for the Cat: Haiku. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2004. Print.

Brief Annotation: This book features 17 haiku (written by Jack Prelutsky!) about different animals, each with a beautiful illustration.

Genre: Poetry

Grade Level: 3-5 (the language is fairly advanced, so I would hesitate to give it to students under grade 3)

Readers who will like this: Children who love animals; children who love riddles/guessing; children who enjoy poetry.

Rating/ Response: 5 – A very fun book that’s not only pretty to look at, but fun to read. Prelutsky abandons his usually humorous voice here for illustrious descriptive language. Each haiku is told from the first person, which is compelling.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: I would ask the students an animal-related riddle, giving characteristics and asking “What am I?” (ex: I am small. I can be scary. I have eight legs. I spin a web. What am I?)

Reading strategy: Inferences, Science

Rationale for strategy: Each haiku gives clues as to the animal’s identity without directly stating its name, asking children to infer which animal is being described. Students even use personal knowledge to understand the concept beyond what is literally stated. This inviting book can launch a haiku project for animals of the region you are studying, or animals currently being studied in science, for a great cross-curricular experience. You could even incorporate a watercolor art component for students’ haiku if you wish.

Posted by: Caitlin Miller


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